The Causes and Symptoms of Postnatal Depression
Postnatal depression may affect up to 1 in 7 new mothers, although the figures are probably much higher, as many women who experience mild postnatal depression may not realise they have it and put their bad moods down to lifestyle changes and the challenges of adjusting to a new baby.
Here, Irene Lowry, our postnatal depression expert, outlines some of the causes and symptoms of postnatal depression.
What are some of the causes of postnatal depression?
- Previous history of depression in your adult life
- Birth trauma or perceived trauma / Lack of support from the hospital
- Hormonal changes / Going home too soon after the birth
- Lack of support or acknowledgement from your partner/family
- Childhood trauma
- Your own values and beliefs around parenthood also you as the parent now
- Your own personality may come into play being an anxious person or a perfectionist. This can become more exaggerated
- Sleep deprivation
Experiencing postnatal depression on one baby does not necessarily mean you will experience it again on another, although it can be possible.
What are the symptoms of postnatal depression?
- Loss or increase of appetite
- Inability to sleep or excessive sleepiness or fatigue and not wanting to get up and face the day
- Tearfulness or feel like you want to cry but can’t
- Feeling numb
- Withdrawing from family and friends and other social occasions
- Lack of concentration or memory difficulties
- Feelings of guilt, shame or hopelessness
- Loss of interest, joy or pleasure in things you used to enjoy
- Possible thoughts of harming yourself
- Feelings of being overwhelmed, out of control, unable to cope
- Irritability or aggressive behaviour
- Loss of libido
- Loss of confidence and self-esteem and feeling inadequate
- Alienation and lack of interest towards the baby and / not bonding with the baby
Suicidal Thoughts Suicidal thoughts at times can be quite common with women battling postnatal depression. It is okay to admit you may be feeling suicidal or just that you are at the end of your tether. This is quite normal battling postnatal depression. What is really important to do is to talk to your partner, a GP or a friend and seek professional help.
Do you recognise any of these symptoms?
- Not sleeping
- Racing mind
- Crying all the time
- Feeling angry and isolated
- Feeling ashamed or embarrassed
- Feeling guilty
- High levels of anxiety or panic attacks
- Not coping
- You don’t feel you can talk to anyone about your real feelings
- Feeling a less than mother
- Not connecting with your baby
- Wanting to run away from it all
These feelings are all very normal, once you seek professional help and work through these feelings and emotions a woman be can be really well and family life can once again be restored. It is important to note that postnatal depression is a progressive illness however. With early professional intervention and education a woman can re engage with her baby and family in a very healthy way and feel positive as she moves forward in her life.
Help is available
Remember, postnatal depression is a temporary illness – you will get better, but you should get some help.
The following organisations offer support: Nurture
01-8430930 Postnatal Depression Ireland
, 021 492 3162; pnd.ie Aware,
1890 30 33 02; aware.ie Samaritans 24hr listening service,
1850 60 90 90; samaritans.org